SAIF Partners closes new $350M fund for India’s resurgent tech startup scene

SAIF Partners, one of India’s most active investment firms, has returned with a new fund of $350 million, its sixth to date.

Unlike other firms, SAIF opted to keep its newest fund at the same size as its previous one because it allows it to be selective on deals, a number of partners told TechCrunch in an interview. SAIF has more than $4 billion in assets under management. Its portfolio includes U.S. IPO exits from Make My Trip and Just Dial and stakes in promising private firms like Paytm, Alibaba’s India proxy, and food delivery service Swiggy.

The fund is unlikely to be put into action for another three to four months, that’s the time when the firm anticipates that it will have finished deploying capital from its current fund.

As for the focus, that’s really much the same as before, SAIF Partners managing director Alok Goel told TechCrunch. In particular logistics, fintech and content are primary areas of interest, while Goel said that enterprise Saas businesses and hardware/internet-of-things are segments where the firm would like to “do more” with the new fund.

SAIF Partners plans to deploy the fund across a range of stages, including seed deals, Series A and later growth rounds, too, as it has done with past funds.

The firm is optimistic that a funding lull that struck India in 2015 and 2016 has been replaced by an environment in which strong companies, at early and late stages of development, have emerged.

“Late stage funding in the county had become stark in 2016, but more encouraging signs now this year,” Goel said. “Clear category leaders have emerged and justified or gone beyond valuations — that’s another encouraging trend. The number of new company deal flow had gone down in 2016, but we’re seeing that the trend is moving in terms of the quality of companies we are meeting.”

Supply of cash is also opening up in India, too, even if larger investors like Tiger Global and SoftBank have pulled back somewhat after massive spending sprees over the past two years.

Accel raised a new $450 million India fund last November, while Sequoia quietly closed $4 billion in fresh funds part of which is set to be mobilized in India. Some new additions include the Fundamentum Partnership, a $100 million growth fund co-founded by billionaire former Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, and Japan’s GREE, which has expanded its investment focus into India.